The Info List - Helmut Bischoff

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Helmut Bischoff (March 1, 1908 – January 5, 1993) was a German SS- Obersturmbannführer
and Nazi security official. During World War II he was the leader of Einsatzkommando 1/IV in Poland
and also served as chief of the Gestapo
for Poznań
(Posen) and Magdeburg. In December, 1943 Bischoff was appointed head of security for Germany's V-weapons program and would serve as director of the Sicherheitsdienst
(SD) at the Mittelbau-Dora
concentration camp from February to April 1945. Between 1967 and 1970 Bischoff was a central figure in the Essen-Dora war crimes trial.


1 Early life 2 Gestapo

2.1 Einsatzgruppen 2.2 Poznań
and Magdeburg

3 V-weapons
security chief

3.1 Mittelbau-Dora

4 Post-war

4.1 Essen-Dora trial

5 References

Early life[edit] Bischoff was born on March 1, 1908 in the town of Glogau in the Province of Silesia, then a part of the German Empire
German Empire
(now: Głogów, Poland). He was the son of a prosperous metzgermeister (master butcher) and attended the local Gymnasium in Glogau. From 1923-1925 Bischoff was a member of the Wikingbund, a paramilitary group formerly associated with the ultra-nationalist Organisation Consul movement. Following the completion of his abitur in 1926 Bischoff went on to study law at the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
and the University of Geneva. It was during his time as a law student that Bischoff first became active in the Nazi movement. He joined the Nazi Party
Nazi Party
in March, 1930 (Member # 203 122) and the Sturmabteilung
(SA) in 1933. After receiving his doctorate of jurisprudence (Dr. jur.) in 1934, Bischoff returned to his native Lower Silesia where he apprenticed as an assessor at the district court offices in Schweidnitz
and Strehlen.[1] During this time Bischoff also functioned as an agent (vertrauensmann) of the Sicherheitsdienst
(SD), Nazi Party's intelligence service. Gestapo[edit] After qualifying as a lawyer, Bischoff joined the Schutzstaffel
(SS) in November, 1935 (SS # 272 403). After undergoing military and police training he was assigned to the Gestapo
and served with the district bureau in Liegnitz until October, 1936. He would later go on to serve as director of the Gestapo
departments in Harburg-Wilhelmsburg (1936-1937) and Köslin (1937-1939).[2] By the outbreak of World War II Bischoff had risen to the rank of Sturmbannführer
(major) in the SS. Einsatzgruppen[edit] During the September, 1939 invasion of Poland
Bischoff served as leader of Einsatzkommando 1/IV (a sub-unit of Lothar Beutel's Einsatzgruppe IV) which was deployed in the northern Polish territories of Pomerania, Warsaw
and Białystok. Bischoff's unit was active in the towns of Jastrowie
and Zambrów
and was also involved in the bloody pacification of Bydgoszcz
(Bromberg) along with the extermination of ethnic Poles carried out as part of Operation Tannenberg, the Nazi ethnic cleansing campaign targeting Poland's intelligentsia and other members of the nation's elite. On September 27, 1939 Bischoff and his Einsatzkommando played a leading role in the raid on the town of Pułtusk, which ended with the brutal mass-expulsion of the town's large Jewish population and their deportation across the Narew River
Narew River
into the now Soviet-occupied east.[3] Einsatzgruppe IV was also involved in the round-up of Warsaw's Jewish inhabitants, setting in motion their eventual ghettoization. Einsatzgruppe IV was formally disbanded on November 20, 1939. Its officers and men were stationed in the Polish General Government
General Government
and converted into stationary units of the Sicherheitspolizei
(security police) in Warsaw, under the command of SS- Standartenführer
Josef Albert Meisinger. Poznań
and Magdeburg[edit] In August, 1940 Bischoff was reassigned to the newly-annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland
Reichsgau Wartheland
where he served under SS- Brigadeführer
Ernst Damzog as director of the Gestapo
for the city of Poznań
(Posen). In this capacity he was also the commandant of the Fort VII
Fort VII
concentration camp, which was initially called "KZ Posen" and in 1939 became "Übergangslager (transit camp) Fort VII". While primarily a detention center, Fort VII
Fort VII
also served as a regular execution site for many local Poles, Jews and the physically or mentally disabled. Prisoners usually remained in the camp for about six months, before being sentenced to death, a long prison term or transfer to a larger concentration camp.[4] Bischoff was promoted to the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) in September, 1941 and later returned to Germany, where he had been appointed commandant of the Sicherheitsdienst
and Sicherheitspolizei
(KdS) for the city of Magdeburg. Bischoff would play a central role in orchestrating the deportation of Magdeburg’s Jewish population; along with those from the nearby towns of Stendal, Dessau, Bernburg
and Aschersleben. Hundreds of German Jews were deported from Magdeburg
by the SS between November, 1942 and March, 1943. The initial wave of deportations were routed mainly to Theresienstadt; while later rail transports carried deportees from Magdeburg
directly to Auschwitz-Birkenau.[5] V-weapons
security chief[edit] In December, 1943 Bischoff was transferred to the SS-Main Economic and Administrative Office (SS-WVHA) and assigned to the general staff of SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Kammler, ostensibly as a representative of the Ministry of Armaments. Kammler was the director of Amtsgruppe C (Buildings and Works) of the SS-WVHA. This department was concerned primarily with the extensive engineering and construction projects of the SS. This included the building of factories and other manufacturing facilities for Germany's various secret weapons programs. The sensitive nature of these projects made their security a major concern for Kammler's SS department. He appointed Bischoff "defense officer" for one such highly-secretive project: Germany's V-weapons
program. As the chief of security Bischoff managed counter-intelligence operations designed to conceal the missile production industry's existence from Allied intelligence. He was also responsible for preventing organized attempts by prisoner-laborers to sabotage the V-weapons
during the assembly process.[6] Much of Germany’s V-1 flying bombs and V-2
ballistic missiles were produced at Mittelwerk, a massive armaments factory housed in an elaborate subterranean tunnel system in the Harz Mountains
Harz Mountains
that had been built, and was partially administered, by Kammler's SS department. The complex and dangerous work performed to assemble the V-weapons
themselves was done under brutal conditions in the tunnels by thousands of slave-laborers (mainly Russians, Poles and French, among other nationalities) drawn from the inmate population of the adjunct Mittelbau-Dora
concentration camp. Mittelbau-Dora[edit] In February, 1944 numerous police and security services operating in the Nordhausen district (which surrounded Mittelwerk
and the subsidiary camp of Mittelbau-Dora) would be consolidated under the control of Bischoff's security organization, headquartered in Ilfeld. Counter-sabotage operations were swiftly begun, mainly targeting the numerous resistance organizations operating among the various prisoner groups working in the tunnels at Mittelwerk
and in the camp.[7] Mittelbau-Dora's Politische Abteilung
Politische Abteilung
(political department) had much of the resistance leadership among the camp's Russian, French and Communist inmates rounded up in November, 1944 and interned in solitary confinement. Many of those taken into custody were interrogated under torture with some later being executed.[8] In February, 1945 the SS administration of Mittelbau-Dora
was reorganized under former Auschwitz commandant Richard Baer. Under this new arrangement, Bischoff took over as head of the camp's internal Sicherheitsdienst
(SD) department, which he employed to conduct espionage on the camp's inmates (and the remaining resistance groups) during the closing months of the war. In response to reports of a planned escape attempt Bischoff took part in a wave of mass-executions in March, 1945 which saw hundreds of the camp's prisoners, mostly Soviet POWs, killed in a series of mass-hangings. Much of the surviving leadership of the camp's resistance organizations were also shot by firing squad prior to the liberation of Mittelbau-Dora
by the US Army in April, 1945.[9] In all, roughly 20,000 people died at either Mittelwerk
or Mittelbau-Dora between 1943 and 1945. Post-war[edit] Following the German defeat Bischoff fled to Magdeburg, now located inside the Soviet occupation zone
Soviet occupation zone
of Germany. He went into hiding and was able to evade capture by Russian authorities for several months before he was eventually identified and arrested by the Soviet security services in January, 1946. He was interned at NKVD
Special Camp No. 1 near Mühlberg until September, 1948 when he was transferred to NKVD
Camp No. 2 (formerly the Buchenwald concentration camp) outside of Weimar. In January, 1950 Bischoff was determined to be a war criminal and deported by the Soviets to a German POW camp located in Siberia. He would remain imprisoned in the USSR for the next five years. In October, 1955 Bischoff would be among the last German prisoners of war and war criminals to be released from captivity by the Soviet Union. After resettling in West Germany, Bischoff was employed by the German Red Cross-Tracing Service from 1957 to 1965.[10] Essen-Dora trial[edit] On November 17, 1967 Bischoff and two other former SS officers who had served with him at Mittelbau-Dora, were indicted for war crimes by the district court in Essen. The charges against Bischoff stemmed from his involvement in the series of mass executions that occurred at Mittelbau-Dora
between February and April, 1945. He was also charged with the use of torture against prisoners under interrogation. Bischoff entered a plea of not guilty.[11] The trial (known as the Essen-Dora Process) began in November, 1967 and would continue for two and a half years. The proceedings included the testimony of over 300 witnesses, among them former Nazi Armaments Minister Albert Speer
Albert Speer
and the famed inventor of the V-2
rocket, Wernher von Braun, now a premier rocket scientist in the United States. On May 5, 1970 the case against Bischoff was postponed by the court due to reasons of his poor health.[12] He was thus able to avoid being formally convicted of war crimes. The case against Bischoff was dropped on the grounds that:

"If the main hearings were to be continued, there were serious grounds for assuming that the defendant ... would be accused of being guilty of murder in a manner which, according to experts, would lead to an excessive rise of blood pressure." [13]

Other efforts to prosecute Bischoff for his wartime activities also met with little success. An investigation by the district court of West Berlin
West Berlin
into his involvement with the Einsatzgruppen
killings in Bydgoszcz
was discontinued in 1971, citing a lack of evidence. A further effort to prosecute Bischoff, this time for atrocities committed during his tenure as Gestapo
chief in Poznań, was likewise abandoned in 1976, once again owing to Bischoff's precarious health. Bischoff continued to reside in West Germany
for the remainder of his life. He died in Hamburg
on January 5, 1993.[14] References[edit]

^ Jens-Christian Wagner:Produktion des Todes: Das KZ Mittelbau-Dora, Göttingen 2001, S. 666. ^ Ernst Klee: The Encyclopedia of persons to the Third Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Who was that before and after 1945. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, S. 51. Penguin Books, second edition, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 51. ^ Ernst Klee: The Encyclopedia of persons to the Third Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Who was that before and after 1945. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, S. 51. Penguin Books, second edition, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 51. ^ hospital Owinska and Fort VII
Fort VII
in Poznan at deathcamps.org ^ Alfred Gottwaldt, Diana Schulle: The Deportation of Jews from the German Reich 1941-1945 - An Annotated Chronology, Wiesbaden, 2005, ISBN 3-86539-059-5. ^ Ernst Klee: The Encyclopedia of persons to the Third Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Who was that before and after 1945. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, S. 51. Penguin Books, second edition, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 51. ^ Jens-Christian Wagner, Production of Death: The Mittelbau-Dora, Göttingen, 2001 S. 666th. ^ Sellier, Andre. A History of the Dora Camp. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. 2003. ^ "Mittelbau: Last Phase". Ushmm.org. Retrieved 2012-05-30.  ^ Jens-Christian Wagner, Production of Death: The Mittelbau-Dora, Göttingen, 2001 S. 666th. ^ André Sellier: Forced Labor in the missile tunnel - History of the Dora camp, Lüneburg, 2000, p. 518. ^ Ernst Klee: The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich persons, Fischer Taschenbuch 2005, S. 51, Quelle: 24 Js 549/61 (Z) OStA Köln. Penguin Books 2005, p. 51, source: 24 Js 549/61 (Z) OSTA Cologne. ^ Ernst Klee: The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich persons, Fischer Taschenbuch 2005, S. 51, Quelle: 24 Js 549/61 (Z) OStA Köln. Penguin Books 2005, p. 51, source: 24 Js 549/61 (Z) OSTA Cologne. ^ Sellier, Andre. A History of the Dora Camp. Chicago: